Hi,I’m Taiki who was born and raised in Tokyo and living here for over 26 years.I will explain what real YAKUZA is in Japan today.I guess you have heard about “YAKUZA” on some articles or films somewhere.But it seems like tending to exaggerate too much and mislead you to a wrong way.So I would like to share the real “YAKUZA” with you guys.
WHAT IS “YAKUZA”?→Yakuza also known as “gokudō” are members of transnational organized crime syndicates originating in Japan. The Japanese police, and media by request of the police, call them bōryokudan , while the Yakuza call themselves “ninkyō dantai”. The English equivalent for the term Yakuza is gangster, meaning an individual involved in a Mafia-like criminal organization. The Yakuza are notorious for their strict codes of conduct, their organized fiefdom nature, and several unconventional ritual practices such as “Yubitsume”. Yakuza members are often described as males with heavily tattooed bodies and slicked hair,yet this group is still regarded as being among “the most sophisticated and wealthiest criminal organizations.”
At their height, the Yakuza maintained a large presence in the Japanese media and operated internationally. In fact, in the early 1960s, police estimated that the Yakuza had a membership of 184,100.However, in recent years their numbers have dwindled with the latest figure from the National Police Agency estimating that as of 2016 the number of members in all 22 designated gangs was 39,100.This decline is often attributed to changing market opportunities and several legal and social developments in Japan which discourage the growth of Yakuza membership.Yet, despite their dwindling numbers, the Yakuza still regularly engage in an array of criminal activities, and many Japanese citizens remain fearful of the threat these individuals pose to their safety. However, there remains no strict prohibition on Yakuza membership in Japan today, although much legislation has been passed by the Japanese government aimed at increasing liability for criminal activities and impeding revenue.
As above explanation,it is fact that the power of “YAKUZA” has been dimishing recently due to the strict regulations from Japanese government. Although it’s so harsh for Yakuza to survive in today’s Japan,they manage to survive somehow or other.
1,How many YAKUZA Groupes are existing in Japan?
Japanese police comprehend that there’re 24 YAKUZA groups existing in Japan right now(2019 July).The three biggest YAKUZA groups are as follows.
①YAMAGUCHI-GUMI(山口組):Members appoximately 4,700/Based in Yamaguchi prefecture
②SUMIYOSHI-KAI（住吉会）:Members approximately 2,900/Based in Tokyo
③INAGAWA-KAI（稲川会）:Members approximately 2,300/Based in Tokyo
2,How do they make money ?
There are lots of ways for them to earn money,of course most of them are illegal.I will intoroduce 10 ways that make money for them.①Selling drugs②IT fraud（Ex:Set up a fake Web store on Internet that cheats people of their money/One click fraud)③Loan sharks④Hostess Bar⑤Brothel⑥Gambling⑦Poach⑧Running a real estate agency⑨Scalper⑩Human trafficking
Globalism are coming to the field of YAKUZA that makes them use the internet, SNS and English as well.It is said that IT fraud is one of the most trending ways for them to make money today.Back in the day,most of YAKUZA were not smart and intelligent but there are a bunch of members graduated from prestigious colleges or schools nowadays which means any business world needs useful and flexible person.
3,Are they dangerous?
First of all,it’s so rare for general Japanese or foreigners to come across them in person.So we don’t need to be afraid of the violence from YAKUZA in general life.But since they sometimes do armed conflicts with other groups of Yakuza for battling over territory on the public streets,we might be careful of one.
4,How can we recognize YAKUZA?
The most famous feature for “YAKUZA” is “Lack of their Pinkies”. Then why do they lose their pinkies? While blonging to YAKUZA society,it’s a must for members to obey their bosses.Cutting their own pinkies is one of the ways to express apologies and regrets to bosses when they screw up something important like killing the member of oponent’s group.
Thank you for reading my article.by Taiki